HOLLAND — Holland natives are ‘welkuming’ Michiganders to experience their city via 'staycation' as tourism numbers dwindle and local businesses suffer.
Out of the 20 hotels spread throughout the city, post-pandemic numbers reflect a 2/3rd reduction in the number of people spending the night. Linda Hart, Interim Executive Director for the Holland Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau says the trickle-down effect is chocking the life out of many sectors of the city.
“We’re not seeing the crowds of people that we normally would during July,” Hart said. “95 percent of our shops and businesses are locally owned, so we want to help them as much as possible.”
The bureau’s funding comes through a hotel assessment tax, collecting roughly 5 percent on each room, helping allocate a pre Covid-19 budget of 2.3 million dollars. This year, they lost a million due to a chink in the tourism chain.
As the bureau begins to get creative with their half-budget market strategy, there is a growing trend in the numbers that just might help city’s like Holland find their economic stride in this pandemic.
“We are seeing a lot of people who would typically be day trippers are now spending the night with us,” said Hart.
For the months of June and July, Holland hotels typically operate at 80 percent occupancy as the Tulip Time Festival and other summer favorites bring-in people from all over to spend their money in the local economy. This year, they’re forecasting roughly 35 percent occupancy. However, the people who are choosing to stay, for the most part, are a growing group of people called ‘staycationers.'
“A staycation is when you don’t necessarily go on an airplane, you stay (the night) in your local area,” said Victoria Keavey, a Michigander from the Greater Grand Rapids area who chose to spend her birthday in Holland after canceling vacation plans due to Covid-19.
“We saw a lot of people wearing masks and observing social distance guidelines,” Keavey said. “We feel happy and safe about what we are seeing.”
As the cautiously optimistic crowd begins to venture back into public, city’s like Holland are inviting everyone to fall in love with Michigan all over again by turning your vacation into a staycation. You can plan your next experience in Holland, and acquaint yourself with the city's Covid-19 guidelines by visiting the city's website.